A leaking toilet can be an incredibly frustrating problem to have. Nobody wants to go to their bathroom to be greeted by a pool of foul smelling liquid that collects under the toilet seat. Bad odors and an unsightly visual aside, such stagnation of toilet water creates an incredibly unhealthy environment for you to live around as well. Leaked water that manages to soak through the floor and sub-floor and even sometimes the walls can lead to nasty mold and mildew problems. So, we will tell you How to fix a leaking toilet.
Lastly, not fixing a leaking toilet can damage bathroom flooring, eventually requiring new flooring. Remember, the longer you wait, the bigger your problems are going to get.
It is therefore imperative that you fix your leaking toilet as soon as possible. Fortunately, a DIY fix is usually quite easy, if you know what you are doing. This post will give you step by step instructions on how to fix a leaking toilet.
Buying parts that you will need to fix your leaking toilet
Now, there are two ways to go about buying parts that will be required to fix your leaking toilet. If you want it to be a quick job, you can buy all the following parts at one go and then begin to work on your toilet. All put together, these parts won’t cost you more than $20. But, if you want to be savvy with a little bit of savings and only want to buy what you need, you can first diagnose the problem that is causing your toilet leak. Then, you can go ahead and buy only the parts you need. It will just take you a little while longer.
Here are the parts that will probably need to fix a leaking toilet
- A toilet wax ring (A seal that sits between your toilet and your bathroom floor)
- One pair or two pairs of Closet Bolts (One pair for each side of the toilet)
- A flange repair ring
- A flange extender
- Screws to secure above components down (if not sold along with components)
Diagnosing the problem that causes your toilet to leak
Unbolt your toilet from the floor
Your toilet is held down on the floor by just 2 or 4 bolts that can be easily removed. All you will need is a right sized wrench to loosen them. In some cases, the bolts might be locked up or corroded. They might not loosen up with just a wrench. For this, you will have to use a locking plier to clamp down the bolt and slightly pull it up, exposing the area below the nut, so you can cut through it with a hacksaw blade.
Once the 4 bolts are removed, you just have to remove the connection to the water line beside the toilet. Depending on the type of toilet you are using, you might also have to remove the water tank that comes with your toilet.
Once the toilet can be moved, lift it and keep it aside, exposing the drain hole your toilet sits on.
What is causing the leak?
Don’t be alarmed by smelly gases when you first lift up your toilet to move it away. It makes sense to keep a rag or old cloth nearby so you can stuff it down the drain to prevent those gases from emanating up. Of course, it is very important that you don’t stuff this rag too deep down your toilet that you can’t remove it later, when you are ready to fix your toilet back up!
A wax ring that needs replacing
If the wax ring that sits on top of the flange is excessively deteriorated, you may simply replace it with a new wax ring. Use a putty knife or a wide-flat surfaced tool to chisel off the old wax around the toilet, to expose the flange. Once the flange is exposed, see if it is broken or sitting too low on the floor. If the flange needs work, please read through the subsequent steps below before replacing the wax ring. If there is nothing wrong with the flange, your fix might be as simple as replacing the wax ring that sits atop the flange. A new ring can be used to fix a leaking toilet even if the flange is slightly damaged. But, it makes sense to be proactive and fix your flange, since you took the effort to remove your toilet from its housing.
A flange that sits too low
If the workers who re-laid your bathroom floor laid your new floor on top of your old floor, they might have done a hack job of letting your flange sit too low. If this is indeed your problem, you will notice a gap even as high as 1 inch between the floor and the lip of your flange. To fix this, you will need to use an extender. Don’t make the mistake of using another wax ring to make it sit atop the old ring. This won’t work as a wax ring is designed to sit on top of a flange and not another wax ring! It might hold up for a while but will eventually collapse, giving you a brand new case of a leaking toilet down the road.
Plastic flange extenders are sold in home improvement stores. They are sold as quarter inch extenders or half inch extenders. Buy what best will almost level off your flange to your floor tiles. You don’t want it to stick up higher than your floor either!
A flange sitting on a sub-floor that is damaged
If your toilet’s flange is sitting on a concrete sub-floor, you will usually never experience any issues with the sub-floor becoming damaged. But, if the sub-floor is wooden, the floor might have easily become damaged with slow water leakage. In such cases, the wooden sub-floor might have to be replaced. This might be a job that is just a bit much for you and it is recommended that you seek the help of a professional.
When the sub-floor is replaced, the flange will also obviously have to be replaced.
Flange itself is damaged
If the flange itself is damaged but the sub-floor isn’t, you may use a flange repair ring to fix your flange. A flange repair ring can come in split sizes or as one whole new ring. Choose a type that will best work towards your purpose of fixing the leak. The idea is to use a flange that will provide a firm base for your toilet’s bolts to be mounted on, without any rocking.
Other problems that might cause a leaking toilet are if hot water is being routed into your toilet. Hot water can easily melt the wax ring that seals the flow of water down to the drain. Rerouting the water supply to ensure cold water will fix the leak in this case. Of course, you will have to replace your wax ring as well.
In some cases, your toilet’s flange, wax ring and even sub-floor might all be in great shape but your toilet itself could have a manufacturing defect where it doesn’t sit flush on your floor. When it doesn’t sit in a flush manner, it is bound to rock and the rocking will slowly compromise the flange and wax ring, causing a leak. In such cases, the obvious fix is to replace the toilet itself. You can check top rated toilets here.